The Hamptons may be the ritziest of Long Island's communities, but the gorgeous haven that attracts the rich and famous is just the beginning. This sizeable promontory – Long Island juts 118 miles east of New York City and encompasses 1,400 square miles – is home to an eclectic mix of things to do, see and taste. The summer months reel in tourists en masse while many attractions shutter for the winter. But, if you time it right, the options for the traveler looking for a unique New York experience are endless, whether it's a special day trip out of the Big Apple or a lengthier sojourn. Here are a few of our favorite Long Island memory-makers.
Skip the Rails, Take the Bus The Long Island Rail Road is a popular link between Long Island and New York City. But the 7 Bus, which hit the streets this past July, is your cheaper (and perhaps more stylish) option. Nonstop service between Manhattan and either Melville or Ronkonkoma will cost you just $7 roundtrip. Further destinations like Southampton are $19 roundtrip. Trips take place daily and several times a day, and your ride comes complete with personal power outlets and free wi-fi.
Skip the Grownups, Hang With the Kids "I am obsessed with finding things to do out there, which is not a difficult task given the possibilities," says Karyn Maletzky Ravin, a marketing executive who lives and works in New York City but counts the days year-round until her next family getaway to Long Island. Her biggest incentive for discovering the next neat thing to do? Her two kids. They love animals and insects and highly recommend the Quogue Wildlife Refuge,where you can scope out native animals like bobcats and owls, view lizards and bugs, and walk along seven miles of trails. For aquatic life, they head to Riverhead and the Long IslandAquarium, you can feed sting rays and sharks in addition tomeet penguins and sea lions. "After the aquarium, it's always lunch at Jerry & The Mermaid," adds the mom of two, where fresh, locally caught seafood reigns supreme. Your own kids will also rave about the Children's Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, home to a windmill, a musical forest and an art studio. And if they like to keep the beat, Maletzky Ravin suggests taking them to Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack, where the Monday evening Drum Circle -- the beating usually starts around 7 p.m. – makes for awesome pictures as the sun sets behind the dunes.
Don't Get Behind the Wheel, Hire a Driver Long Island's wine industry is booming with more than 60 vineyards and 30-plus wineries to its name. If you're making a day trip out of it, leave the driving to Hampton Luxury Liner, which will pick you up from a variety of locations in Manhattan or Long Island and whisk you away to hot spots like Pindar Vineyards, Duck Walk Vineyards and Baiting Hollow Farm. You'll go in style, too, enjoying reclining leather seats with individual power outlets, snacks, wi-fi and flat-screen TVs.